Unshelfish extends a warm welcome to Marissa Campbell. Thank you for joining Unshelfish Marissa. For Starters tell us a bit about Avelynn.
Thank you for having me; I’m thrilled to be here!
Avelynn is set in 869, Anglo-Saxon England. Our heroine, Avelynn, is a strong-willed spitfire of a Saxon who struggles to prove herself worthy of leadership and equality. She is determined to follow her pagan faith in a land that will condemn her for her beliefs, and she wants the freedom to choose who she will love. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with her decisions and her choices land her in some very difficult situations.
How did you become involved with the subject or theme of your book?
I had to find a time period in which a feisty character such as Avelynn could have existed. My research led me to Anglo-Saxon England. Women were making things happen in ninth century England! They had power and influence in court, they could hold and bequeath land and chattel, and there were some pretty awesome historical figures of the time that I could draw from. Aethelflaed, Alfred the Great’s daughter, ruled a kingdom, led men into battle, and earned the love and respect of an entire country. Judith, daughter of King Charles the Bald of Francia, ignored social norms and eloped, causing a furor in the process, but still managed to keep the guy and get her way. This was a time of great opportunity for a strong-willed Saxon like Avelynn. When the Normans conquered England, a short two hundred years later in 1066, women lost a great deal of control and power.
Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?
Oddly enough, I didn’t read a lot growing up. It wasn’t until my first real job—where I was stuck sitting on the train commuting for hours on end—that I discovered a love for reading. I bought a trade paperback copy of Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour and was blown away. I didn’t think a book could possibly compete with Sonic the Hedgehog and my brand new Saga handheld gaming system, but Rice did it. After that, I was hooked and embraced the reader within.
What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
My goal with Avelynn was to create an escape—a book that was compelling, sexy, and impossible to put down. I wanted enough historical detail to give readers a true sense of the time and place, and I wanted a sexy, sensuous love story with a generous amount of heat—as one reviewer said, “The book created enough heat to warm a thatched cottage in winter.” 😉
As for achieving those goals, I’m hopeful I hit the right balance. I think modern readers can relate to Avelynn’s tenacious spirit and her desire to fight for what she believes in. And I hope readers enjoy the love story between Alrik and Avelynn. Alrik is unlike anyone Avelynn has ever known, and despite circumstance thrusting them onto opposite sides of the battlefield, they both knew they had something worth fighting for. I hope readers love these characters as much as I do.
What do you think most characterizes your writing?
A willingness to push boundaries and meld genres—I like to colour outside the lines. J
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
I’m a social creature who enjoys immediate gratification… so, the long lonely hours spent in front of a computer were a bit tough to handle some days. To break up the isolation, I tried to surround myself with family and friends and continued to stay active, enjoying long rides on my bicycle and sneaking out for routine trips to the gym.
As for the immediate gratification element… well, that one just takes some practice getting used to. At first the length of time it took to write the book seemed long, then I edited it, which took longer, then I queried it, which took longer still. By the time it was picked up for publication and stocked on shelves… well, let’s just say I’ve become an expert at being impatiently patient, lol.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I loved creating these characters and learning all about their world—I really enjoyed the time spent researching paganism and leechcraft. Cool stuff.
I was also lucky enough to meet some incredible real-world people as I wrote the book—people I now consider good friends, even the ones I’ve only met virtually. It’s been a blessing for that.
What is the biggest thing that people THINK they know about your subject/genre, that isn’t so?
I think the greatest misconception about this time period is the thought that everyone was filthy. Both the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings took baths and cared a great deal about how they looked. Anglo-Saxon men were fastidious about their trimmed beards and current hair styles, and the Vikings had ear scoops to clean out wax and scraping tools to clean beneath their fingernails.
What is the most important thing that people DON’T know about your subject/genre, that they need to know?
One aspect of the culture that might be surprising for readers is that despite the nobility being Christian, the peasants still held a reverence for nature and her mysterious, magical influence. Elves shot arrows of disease, creatures dark and frightening haunted forests and bogs, and witches uttered curses and spells. Leeches (the doctors of the time) were just as likely to use a few magical words sprinkled over an injury or sickness than to prescribe a herbal remedy.
What inspires you?
Life. J I’m inspired by being. That’s probably the yoga teacher in me talking, lol, but there’s opportunity and passion in everything. I’m just here to observe and catch it when it flashes by.
What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has?
When did you become a New York Times Best Seller? 😀
•Publication Date: September 8, 2015
St. Martin’s Press
Marissa Campbell is a published freelance author, and co-author of the award-winning, spiritual self-help book Life: Living in Fulfillment Every Day.
Look for her debut historical fiction Avelynn coming September 8th, 2015, from St. Martinís Press. Currently, hard at work on the second book in the Avelynn series, she is a proud member of the Historical Novel Society, Romance Writers of America, Writerís Community of Durham Region, and local critique group B7.
When she is not writing, she is busy looking after her wonderful children, spending time with her fantastic husband, hanging out with her awesome friends, teaching yoga, dancing, laughing, and having fun!
Unshelfish is proud to be included in the tour for Marissa Campbell’s Avelynn. Be sure to click on the HFVBT banner to check out the entire tour schedule.